Sunday 20th June

When small conquers all

I enjoy painting. I am not good at it, but I enjoy it. I am less a photographic artist than an Impressionist. Don’t get too close! God is an artist. You can see the broad brushstrokes in towering clouds and majestic tree; in rolling waves and the rainbow sunsets. But God is also in the minutae -the tiny insignificant details of life in all its glory. Tiny green shelled beetles; ants that can carry items bigger than they are; the beautiful patterns on a leopard’s coat and the way a new born lamb’s wool covers so closely.

When we contemplate our place in the world I think we feel very small – humbled by the amazing planet and universe we inhabit. My grand-daughter has taken up painting and she says she looks differently at the world now. She is excited by how many greens there are!

In that story from the OT Goliath is portrayed as a giant of a man. He is around 7 ft tall, and so strong he can carry the equivalent of 10 stone as a spear head! No wonder people were afraid of him. Up against him was David, who was little more than a boy, slender so that he could not walk wearing armour. But, confident that he had the protection of God he used his sling shot to kill great Goliath. But I often wonder how he felt when he was standing before this huge human being.

There are times in life when we feel small and powerless. I don’t know about you but I have felt very small in the last fifteen months. I have felt powerless too, not because I was powerful before but because choice and free will seemed to have got lost somehow. Democracy swallowed by the eternal phrase “the science” Feeling powerless to control what is happening to us is one step away from being afraid. And we have all faced fears – about ourselves and our loved ones, about out economy and doomsayers. We have all faced fears to do with climate change and what may happen to our planet if we don’t draw back from the brink very soon. And we feel powerless to do much about any of it.

In the boat in a storm the disciples faced their fears and did the only thing they could think of. They woke Jesus up. Actually they were a bit cross with him. “Don’t you care that we might all be about to die? How can you sleep on your cushion while we are fighting this storm?” Jesus, seeing their fear said to the “Where is your faith?” And he calmed the storm with a few words.

Well we thought our boat was sailing safely towards harbour – a few more days and we would be out of the storm and safely back to normal. (Whatever that is!) But now we know that it’s not over yet, and there is anger and fear and a little bit of bravado.

We need to remember who is powerful beyond all human understanding of the word power; we need to have faith that even if we cannot understand or accept what is happening there is someone we can have faith in, turn to and have hope. The giant of the Philistines and the storm on the lake have no fear for those who believe that God holds all things within God’s plan. Compared to the eternity and the vastness of God’s creation we are small and insignificant. But even our hairs are numbered, and we are treasured.

Hope is wonderful. We have seen our hopes shattered just lately – but God has a plan. It’s a plan that created a wondrous world and peopled it with us; it’s a plan that knew when time began about the war with the Philistines and how it would end, about exile and conquering armies and world wars and covid pandemics. It is a plan that says “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I call you by your name; you are mine”

Life is often an uphill struggle, a daily battle against all sorts of things. But if we believe in the God who loves us, the God who took on humanity and died for us, the God who knows when and how this pandemic will end, just as the storm that terrified the disciples ended, then we can hope. We can be “strong in the strength that God supplies” All things will pass. The small and insignificant like us are strengthened by God to bear what must be borne and to carry what seems impossible and emerge victorious. Do not worry. God is within this fight – and will hold us fast.

Revd Barbara Bennett